The key sashimi etiquette rules on how to appropriately eat sashimi. Tips to be the perfect guest at the dining table. Avoid embarrassment and be an elegant guest.
What sashimi etiquette is
Sashimi etiquette is the set of rules to properly eat sashimi. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow sashimi etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.
If you are a guest, respect sashimi etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.
What you should know about sashimi
Sashimi is a typical food in Japanese cuisine. It is not a type of sushi. The main difference between sushi and sashimi is the rice. Sashimi is a slice of raw fish, served without rice. While sushi is a slice of raw fish that always comes paired with rice.
Sashimi etiquette rules: how to eat sashimi
1) When to eat sashimi
Sashimi is usually eaten at lunch and dinner. However, it is appropriate for many other occasions. Such as an aperitivo, pre-dinner drinks, or a drinking party.
In Japan, sashimi is often eaten as a snack between meals. Sushi and sashimi bars are popular venues for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
In Westerner countries, sashimi is appropriate for both formal and informal events. Such as a formal dinner, a brunch, or a picnic. However, sashimi is still an unfamiliar food for many guests. Furthermore, raw fish is one of the most disliked foods, due to its texture and health concerns. Thus, sashimi is most appropriate for informal occasions.
2) Food and beverages to pair sashimi with
In general, Japanese cuisine does not mix flavors. Sashimi is an example of such a principle. It is supposed to have a simple, clean, and yet sophisticated taste. Thus, it is not proper sashimi etiquette to pair other food with sashimi. While you can order additional courses before and after sashimi, it is best to eat sashimi on its own.
You can order sushi and sashimi together. However, it is best to eat them separately.
The best beverages to pair sashimi with are tea, beer, or sake. In Japan, when people eat sashimi as a snack or for lunch, they usually pair it with green tea. At dinner, beer is the most popular.
Japanese usually do not pair sushi with sake. The main reason is to avoid redundancy. Sake is based on rice. Thus it is considered redundant when paired with the rice in sushi. However, drinking sake with sashimi is not against etiquette, as sashimi comes without rice.
Traditionally, sashimi does not pair with wine. Today, it is allowed. Pair sashimi with sparkling wine or white wine. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Albariño, Prosecco, or Champagne. Never pair sashimi with red wine.
3) Sashimi seasoning etiquette
Sashimi etiquette suggests limiting the seasoning to the minimum. The seasoning may cover the flavor of the fish. Thus, adding seasoning to sashimi can be seen as a lack of appreciation of the taste, and thus as an insult to the chef.
Westerner etiquette allows seasoning sashimi. However, you should eat sashimi only with soy sauce and wasabi. Avoid other seasonings.
Etiquette for adding soy sauce to sashimi
Pour a small quantity of soy sauce into the saucer. Do not pour the sauce directly on the sashimi. Then, you can gently touch the soy sauce with a single slice of raw fish. Do not dip a full piece into the sauce.
Etiquette for adding wasabi to sashimi
You can put a small quantity of wasabi into the soy sauce. Then, stir gently. Japanese do not mix wasabi and soy sauce. However, it is allowed in Westerner countries. Do not add wasabi to the sashimi directly.
How to eat ginger and daikon
Most restaurants serve ginger and shredded daikon with sashimi. Daikon is a radish, usually served in white strips. Use both as a palate cleanser. You can eat them between pieces to wash your palate and prepare it for the next flavor. Do not mix ginger or daikon together with a piece of sashimi.
4) Sashimi utensils etiquette
Eat sashimi with chopsticks. Eating sashimi with your fingers is against etiquette. Using regular cutlery is uncommon. However, if you have a hard time using chopsticks, you can ask for a fork and knife.
5) How to eat sashimi
Eat one piece of sashimi at a time. Eat pieces whole. Do not take more than one bite of the same piece.
To eat sashimi, pick one piece with your chopsticks. Dip it gently into the sauce. Then, put the whole piece into your mouth.
When you have finished, place the chopsticks on the holder if available. Otherwise, leave them on your plate with both ends resting on the edge of the plate.
6) Sashimi etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
When eating sashimi, avoid the worst etiquette mistakes.
- 8/10. Not respecting chopsticks etiquette.
- 7/10. Pairing sashimi with other foods.
- 7/10. Eating sashimi with your fingers.
- 6/10. Adding excessive seasoning to sashimi.
- 6/10. Pairing sashimi with red wine.
- 5/10. Eating one piece of sashimi in multiple bites.
Additional information for properly eating sashimi
How many calories per serving?
The calories in sashimi can vary based on the fish. On average, sashimi contains about 40 calories per piece. A single serving is usually 6 to 10 pieces. Thus, it contains between 240 and 400 calories.